In an intriguing move for national security buffs, Russia has begun a project to research and train white whales to protect underwater military bases as part of their push toward the Arctic.
While the US and Russian militaries have experience using seals and dolphins to carry out underwater tasks during the Cold War, a Siberian Times article details that further research was conducted to see if white whales could “guard entrances to naval bases” in polar regions and “assist deep water divers and if necessary kill any strangers who enter their territory.”
The details of how a white whale would go about killing an intruder were never revealed as the article noted that, “It was planned that white whales could be on duty at the entrances to naval bases. But (they) turned to be very delicate animals – they easily got ill after long swimming in cold polar waters.”
The better bet for Russia’s Arctic Naval project are the previously used seals and dolphins. Research was conducted on ringed, bearded, grey and Greenland seals along with bottle-nosed dolphins in a program financed by the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Based on this research TV Zvezda reported a wide range of applications for seals within the Russian Navy:
“Even after a one year break in training the seal will keep all oral commands in its memory. They can locate mines and lift objects from deep waters, it is enough to show and object to a seal and it will find it at the bottom. The seal can be actively in touch with a diver – it can bring up a tool or carry away something. It can distinguish ‘his’ diver from a stranger. If the seal receives a special signal, it can block or kill the underwater saboteur.”
The US will be monitoring Russia’s actions regarding the Arctic closely as Putin has recently reopened several military bases in search of more sources of energy.
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